وَ لَمَّا جَآءَہُمۡ رَسُوۡلٌ مِّنۡ عِنۡدِ اللّٰہِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَہُمۡ نَبَذَ فَرِیۡقٌ مِّنَ الَّذِیۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الۡکِتٰبَ ٭ۙ کِتٰبَ اللّٰہِ وَرَآءَ ظُہُوۡرِہِمۡ کَاَنَّہُمۡ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۰۲﴾۫
وَلَمَّا جَآءَهُمۡ رَسُولٞ مِّنۡ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ مُصَدِّقٞ لِّمَا مَعَهُمۡ نَبَذَ فَرِيقٞ مِّنَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ كِتَٰبَ ٱللَّهِ وَرَآءَ ظُهُورِهِمۡ كَأَنَّهُمۡ لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ
a. See 2:90. (close)
b. 3:188. (close)
b. See 2:90. (close)
c. 3:188. (close)
As pointed out in the preceding verse, the Jews had pledged themselves to their own Prophets that they would accept the Prophet who was to appear from among their brethren, the Ishmaelites, in fulfilment of the prophecies mentioned in the Bible. But although all the signs mentioned in the prophecies concerning the promised Prophet had been fulfilled in the person of the Holy Prophet, yet they persisted in their denial and thus broke their promise and belied their own Scriptures.
The word مصدق has been construed to mean: (1) that the Quran declares the Bible to be true, and (2) that the Quran fulfils the prophecies contained in the Bible. The latter meaning only is applicable here. For here the People of the Book are spoken of as casting the Book of God (the Torah) behind their backs as a result of the fulfilment of its prophecies in the Quran. This cannot be the case, if we follow the first meaning ascribed to the word; for if the Quran declared the Bible to be true, this could not be the cause of the Jews casting their own Book behind their backs. Evidently, the correct meaning is that in spite of the fact that the Quran fulfils the prophecies contained in the Bible, the Jews reject it, and thereby cast their own Book behind their backs. (close)
وَ اتَّبَعُوۡا مَا تَتۡلُوا الشَّیٰطِیۡنُ عَلٰی مُلۡکِ سُلَیۡمٰنَ ۚ وَ مَا کَفَرَ سُلَیۡمٰنُ وَ لٰکِنَّ الشَّیٰطِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا یُعَلِّمُوۡنَ النَّاسَ السِّحۡرَ ٭ وَ مَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ عَلَی الۡمَلَکَیۡنِ بِبَابِلَ ہَارُوۡتَ وَ مَارُوۡتَ ؕ وَ مَا یُعَلِّمٰنِ مِنۡ اَحَدٍ حَتّٰی یَقُوۡلَاۤ اِنَّمَا نَحۡنُ فِتۡنَۃٌ فَلَا تَکۡفُرۡ ؕ فَیَتَعَلَّمُوۡنَ مِنۡہُمَا مَا یُفَرِّقُوۡنَ بِہٖ بَیۡنَ الۡمَرۡءِ وَ زَوۡجِہٖ ؕ وَ مَا ہُمۡ بِضَآرِّیۡنَ بِہٖ مِنۡ اَحَدٍ اِلَّا بِاِذۡنِ اللّٰہِ ؕ وَ یَتَعَلَّمُوۡنَ مَا یَضُرُّہُمۡ وَ لَا یَنۡفَعُہُمۡ ؕ وَ لَقَدۡ عَلِمُوۡا لَمَنِ اشۡتَرٰٮہُ مَا لَہٗ فِی الۡاٰخِرَۃِ مِنۡ خَلَاقٍ ۟ؕ وَ لَبِئۡسَ مَا شَرَوۡا بِہٖۤ اَنۡفُسَہُمۡ ؕ لَوۡ کَانُوۡا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۰۳﴾
وَٱتَّبَعُواْ مَا تَتۡلُواْ ٱلشَّيَٰطِينُ عَلَىٰ مُلۡكِ سُلَيۡمَٰنَۖ وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيۡمَٰنُ وَلَٰكِنَّ ٱلشَّيَٰطِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُعَلِّمُونَ ٱلنَّاسَ ٱلسِّحۡرَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَى ٱلۡمَلَكَيۡنِ بِبَابِلَ هَٰرُوتَ وَمَٰرُوتَۚ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنۡ أَحَدٍ حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَآ إِنَّمَا نَحۡنُ فِتۡنَةٞ فَلَا تَكۡفُرۡۖ فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنۡهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِۦ بَيۡنَ ٱلۡمَرۡءِ وَزَوۡجِهِۦۚ وَمَا هُم بِضَآرِّينَ بِهِۦ مِنۡ أَحَدٍ إِلَّا بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِۚ وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمۡ وَلَا يَنفَعُهُمۡۚ وَلَقَدۡ عَلِمُواْ لَمَنِ ٱشۡتَرَىٰهُ مَا لَهُۥ فِي ٱلۡأٓخِرَةِ مِنۡ خَلَٰقٖۚ وَلَبِئۡسَ مَا شَرَوۡاْ بِهِۦٓ أَنفُسَهُمۡۚ لَوۡ كَانُواْ يَعۡلَمُونَ
126. Talautu-hu means, I followed him (Lane). (close)
127. ‘Ala gives the sense of fi, i.e. "in" or "during" and "against" (Mughni). The particle is also used in the Qur’an in the sense of "in conformity with" (2:113); assigning a cause (2:186); in the sense of fi (28:16) and min (83:3). Tala ‘Alaihi also means, he lied against him (Taj, Muhit & Razi). (close)
128. Sihr means, a crafty device; mischief; enchantment; producing what is false in the form of truth; any event of which the cause is hidden and which is imagined to be different from what it really is (Lane). Thus every falsehood, deceit or crafty device which is meant to hide the real object from public view is included in Sihr. (close)
129. The word "two angels" here signifies two holy men (12:32), because the two angels are here mentioned as teaching something to the people and angels do not live among men and do not have free intercourse with them (17:95; 21:8). (close)
130. Harut and Marut are both descriptive names, the former being derived from Harata, (i.e. he tore up—Aqrab) means, one who tears up; and the latter derived from Marata, (i.e. he broke) means, one who breaks. These names signify that the object of the appearance of these holy men was to 'tear asunder' and 'break' the glory and power of the empire of the enemies of the Israelites. These holy men told the new members, at the time of initiation, that they were a sort of trial from God, serving to differentiate between the good and the bad. They confined the membership of their society to the males only. The verse signifies that the Jews in the time of the Holy Prophet indulged in the same mischievous devices and practices which characterized their forefathers in the days of Solomon. It further says that the mischief-mongers in Solomon’s time were those rebellious men who called him a disbeliever. The verse clears Solomon of the accusation of disbelief. It adds that the mischief-mongers in Solomon’s time taught their associates such signs as conveyed to them meanings quite different from those generally understood, for the purpose of deceiving people and concealing their real designs. The verse alludes to those secret plots which the enemies of Solomon hatched against him and by which they sought to break up his Empire. It is implied that the Medinite Jews are now resorting to the selfsame vile tactics against the Holy Prophet but they will never succeed in their evil designs. (close)
130A. When the Jews saw that the power of Islam was steadily expanding and opposition to it in Arabia had completely broken down and they could not arrest or retard its progress, they began to excite outsiders against it. Oppressed and persecuted by Christian rulers they had taken refuge in Persia and had shifted their religious centre from Judah to Babylonia (Hutchinson’s History of the Nations, p. 550). Gradually, they came to exercise great influence at the court of the Persian Monarchs and began to hatch plots against Islam. When Chosroes II received a letter from the Holy Prophet inviting him to accept Islam, they succeeded in instigating him to issue orders to Badhan, the Governor of Yemen, which was then a province of Persia, to arrest and send the Holy Prophet in chains to the Persian court. It is to these plots and machinations of the Jews in the Prophet’s time that the verse alludes. Their attention is invited to the fact that their forefathers had also hatched plots first against Solomon when some members of their community set up against him societies in which secret signs and symbols were taught (1 Kings, 11:29-32; 1 Kings, 11:14, 23, 26; II Chron. 10:2-4). The second occasion when they resorted to secret societies was during their captivity in Babylon in the time of King Nebuchadnezzar. The holy men referred to in the verse were Haggai, the Prophet, and Zechariah, the son of Iddo (Ezra, 5:1). These holy men confined membership of their society to males and told the new members at the time of initiation that they were a sort of trial from God and that the Israelites should not, therefore, refuse to believe what they said. When Cyrus, King of Media and Persia, rose to power, the Israelites entered into a secret agreement with him which greatly facilitated his conquest of Babylon. In return for this service Cyrus not only allowed them to return to Jerusalem but also helped them in rebuilding the Temple of Solomon (Historians’ History of the World, ii. 126). The verse hints that the efforts of the Jews on two previous occasions had met with different results. On the first occasion their conspiracy being directed against Solomon, had ended in the total loss of their prestige and finally in their banishment to Babylon. On the second occasion, they took a similar course under two inspired personages and were successful. Hence, in order to indicate whether the efforts of the Jews against the Holy Prophet would meet with failure, as they did in the days of Solomon, or with success as in Babylon, the Qur’an says, the opponents of the Holy Prophet are learning that which would harm them and do them no good, hinting that they will not be successful as their forefathers were in Babylon. (close)
109. Important Words:
تتلوا (followed). See 2:114
شیاطین (rebellious men). See 2:15.
علی (during) gives the sense of فی i.e. "in" or "during" (Aqrab & Mughni). It is also used to denote a hostile sense meaning "against", as one says خرج علیه i.e. he rebelled against him, or he went out against him with an army intending to fight (Wright). In this sense the phrase علی ملك سلیمان would mean, against the government of Solomon, or conspiring against his government.
سحر (falsehood and deception). In verbal senses سحرہ means, he deceived him; he coaxed him and involved him in trouble and deprived him of his understanding; he enchanted him. سحرالفضة means, he coated a piece of silver so as to make it look like gold. The noun سحر means, anything the source of which is not quite visible; showing off falsehood in the form of truth; a crafty device; craftiness; mischief; enchantment (Aqrab). It also means, producing what is false in the form of truth; any event of which the cause is hidden and which is imagined to be different from what it really is; embellishment by falsification and deceit (Lane). Thus every falsehood, deceit or crafty device which is meant to hide the real object from public view is included in the meaning of سحر.
ملكین (two angels) is the dual number from ملك (angel) for which see 2:31. Figuratively ملك is sometimes used to denote a handsome or holy person, as the Quran says, He (Joseph) is but a gracious angel, i.e. a handsome and pious youth (12:32). As in the verse under comment, the two angels are described as teaching something to the people, therefore the word cannot be taken in its literal significance, because angels do not live among men and do not generally have free intercourse with them (17:95, 96; 21:8). Thus in the present verse ملکین would not mean "two angels" in the literal sense of the word but "two holy men".
ھاروت (Harut) and ماروت (Marut) are both descriptive names. ھاروت is derived from ھرت which means, he tore up (Aqrab); hence ھاروت means, one who tears; the tearer. ماروت is derived from مرت which means, he broke (Aqrab & Lane). Thus ماروت means, one who breaks; the breaker. These names signify that the object of the appearance of these holy men was to 'tear' asunder and 'break' the glory and power of certain people.
فتنة (trial) means, the trial or means whereby the condition of a man may be demonstrated in respect of good or evil (Lane). They say فتن الصائغ الذھب i.e. the goldsmith melted the gold in the crucible so that its purity or impurity might be ascertained (Aqrab).
Many a legend unwarranted by the Quran and the Hadith—and even running contrary to them—clusters round this verse. It would be quite unreasonable to interpret it on the basis of those myths. For their true interpretation no external evidence is needed, the words being self-explanatory. It is clear from the verse itself that Jews in the time of the Holy Prophet were bent upon the same mischief which characterized them in the days of Solomon and during the days of their captivity in Babylon. The verse further indicates that the mischief-mongers of Solomon’s time were those "rebellious men" who called him an unbeliever. God says that those wicked men themselves, and not Solomon, lacked belief. Again, the verse tells us that these men taught their associates such signs as conveyed to them meanings quite different from those generally accepted, for the purpose of deceiving other people and concealing their own activities. All this leads to the conclusion that this verse alludes to those secret plots which the enemies of Solomon made against him, and by which they wished to break his empire. It is pointed out that now, in the time of the Holy Prophet, these people are resorting to the selfsame tactics, but that they will fail.
As the verse refers to a number of historical events, it is advisable to relate them here at some length.
When Jews saw that the power of Islam was steadily expanding and that no opposition from the Arabs had been able to arrest the progress of Muslims, they began to excite outsiders against them. At that time there were two large empires in the neighbourhood of Arabia: (1) The Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire; and (2) The Persian Empire. As Jews were already at enmity with the Roman Government, because they were in constant trouble under it, so it was only the Persian Government to which they could look for support. Harassed by the oppression of Christian rulers, they had taken refuge in Persia, where they enjoyed a good deal of religious freedom, and their religious centre shifted from Judah and Jerusalem to Babylonia (Hutchinson’s History of the Nations, p.550). In the seventh century of the Christian era, i.e., during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, Jews suffered exceptionally cruel persecution at the hands of the Christian Emperors of the Eastern Roman Empire. "Both Phocas and Heraclius", says the Historians’ History of the World (vol. 7, p. 175), "attempted to exterminate the Jewish religion, and if possible to put an end to their national existence. Heraclius not only practised every species of cruelty himself to effect this object within the bounds of his own dominions, but he even made the forced conversion or banishment of the Jews a prominent feature in his diplomacy." So, in the time of the Holy Prophet the only government to which the Jews could look for help was that of Persia, where their co-religionists enjoyed much influence, especially in the reign of Chosroes II (Jew. Enc., ix. 648).
Consequently, when the Jews saw that their efforts to check the progress of Islam had totally failed, they took to exciting the Persian Court against the Holy Prophet by various means; and as a result, Chosroes II issued orders to the Governor of Yemen to send to him the Arabian claimant as a captive. But when the envoys of the Governor came to the Holy Prophet, he asked them to see him the next day, when he told them that God had informed him that He had their king murdered. Thereupon they returned and related this incident to the Governor. A few days later, the Governor received a letter from Siroes, the son of Chosroes II, to the effect that he had killed his father on account of the latter’s tyranny and that the Governor should, on his behalf, renew the oath of allegiance from all the Chiefs of Yemen; and that the order of his father regarding an Arab should be considered as cancelled (Tabari, iii. 1573-1574).
Some historians, including Tabari himself, hold that it was the letter of the Holy Prophet to the king of Persia inviting him to Islam that was the occasion of his orders for the apprehension of the Holy Prophet. But on comparison of the dates of the above-mentioned events, this turns out to be a mistaken view. For, as we read in Zurqani (ii. 211-212), the letter in question was despatched from Medina on the first of Muharram, 7 A.H.–a date corresponding to 12th April, 628 A.D. (Lane under ھجرة); whereas Chosroes II, who sent orders for the arrest of the Holy Prophet, had been assassinated on the 29th of February, 628 A.D. (Historians’ History of the World, viii. 95). Thus the view that the letter of the Holy Prophet was the cause of Chosroes’ orders is quite untenable; and the only possible cause of Chosroes’ ignominious orders was that his ears had been poisoned by malicious reports, a fact admitted by Sir William Muir (The Life of Mahomet, p. 370). It is to these efforts of the Jews that the Quran alludes in the verse under comment.
The verse also points out that it was foolish on the part of the Jews to suppose that they would succeed in that way. Their attention is invited to the fact that they had already been responsible for two secret plots. The first was against Solomon, when some members of their community turned rebels, hatched plots and stirred up bitter feeling against him by calling him an infidel; whereas the infidels were those who opposed him, hurled imputations at him, and set up against him secret societies in which secret signs and symbols were taught. The Jews, however, themselves reaped the ill-reward of their sinister schemes: their power, as a consequence, fell into decay, and at last they became so powerless that they were driven into exile towards Babylon. This account of Jewish secret societies and conspiracies and treacherous signs and symbols, as alluded to in this verse, finds corroboration in the Bible (1 Kings 11:1-6), where we read that the charge of idol-worship was spread against Solomon. An account of his enemies is found in I Kings 11:14, 23, 26, and a reference to secret plots is met with in II Chron. 10:2-4 where we learn that the Jews had sent for Jeroboam, a bitter enemy of Solomon, immediately after his death and had attempted to make Solomon’s son agree to some demands of theirs, involving certain imputations against Solomon, before his accession to the throne. We learn about the secret signs from I Kings 11:29-32, in which the ten tribes of the Israelites are likened to ten pieces of a garment, and Jeroboam is told that these ten tribes were on his side against Solomon; and so it proved to be, for on the death of Solomon, these ten tribes made Jeroboam their king (I Kings 12:20). Again, the reference of the Quran to the infidelity of Solomon’s enemies finds corroboration in II Chron. 11:15, from which we learn that his enemies, who falsely charged him with unbelief, themselves fell into idol-worship when they rose to power.
Besides the testimony of the Bible, there is other evidence to show that in the days of Solomon a secret society was at work against him. An old tradition, current among medieval Freemasons, indicates that Solomon was envious of the superior intelligence of Hiram, the chief architect who built the Temple at Jerusalem. He is said to have attempted to kill the great Mason by having him thrown into a tank of molten brass, but he was saved by the spirit of his ancestor, Cain, who prophesied that at last his people would get the better of their enemy. Solomon, however, as the tradition goes, had him afterwards put to death. It is said of him that he had fixed certain secret signs which were a sort of mystery known only to him and his associates (Secret Societies of the World, Volume II, pp. 1-8; as the original book could not be obtained, the reference is to an Urdu translation). We further learn from this book that before the period of the Accepted Masons, the same signs used in all the Lodges were current among the Masons of Solomon’s time (p. 11) and that at the time of initiation, the Hiram incident was related to the new member (pp. 29, 30). However incredible the story as a whole may be, it points at least to the conclusion that in one way or other, secret societies were associated with Solomon’s reign and were much in vogue in his time.
The second occasion when, according to the Quran, the Israelites had resort to secret societies was during their captivity in Babylon. But this time they were not acting against any Prophet but were, on the other hand, working under the leadership of two inspired personages, who were, in obedience to divine command, trying to bring about the deliverance of the Israelites. Their mission was to "tear asunder" and "break down" the empire of the enemies of the Israelites. These holy men told new members, at the time of initiation, that they were a sort of trial from God, serving to differentiate between the good and the bad, and that the Israelites should not therefore refuse to believe what they said, because this would lead them to infidelity. In their teachings they drew a distinction between males and females, confining membership to males only (this is an old practice found among most secret societies). It is also stated that the disciples of these holy men directed their activities against only those for whose chastisement they were commissioned by God.
In this narration, the Quran refers to the days when King Nebuchadnezzar brought the Jews as captives into Babylon and kept them there for a long time. The holy men referred to in the verse under comment were Haggai, the Prophet, and Zechariah, the son of Iddo (Ezra 5:1). When Cyrus, King of Media and Persia, rose to power, the Israelites entered into a secret agreement with him and greatly facilitated his conquest of Babylon. In return for this service, he not only allowed them to return to their own country but also helped in the rebuilding of the Temple (Historians’ History of the World, ii. 126).
After stating that the Jews of the Holy Prophet’s time were following the same course which was adopted by the rebels of Solomon’s days and which was later adopted by the Jews under two holy men in Babylon, it was necessary here to state the ultimate upshot of their efforts against the Holy Prophet, because on the two previous occasion’s their efforts had met with different results. On the first occasion the conspiracy of the Israelites, being directed against a Prophet of God, had ended in the total loss of their prestige and finally in their banishment to Babylon. On the second occasion, they took a similar course under two inspired personages and were successful. Hence, in order to indicate whether the efforts of the Jews against the Holy Prophet would meet with failure, as they did in the days of Solomon, or with success as in Babylon, the Quran says: these people are learning that which would harm them and do them no good; hinting that they will not be successful as in Babylon. Accordingly, the consequence of their hostile efforts against the Holy Prophet was that Chosroes, their only supporter, met his death at the hands of his son, and they themselves were exiled from Arabia in the time of ‘Umar. In the concluding portion of the verse, God adds: And they have certainly known that he who trafficks therein has no share of good in the Hereafter, meaning that a mischievous plotter never succeeds ultimately. The last clause, had they but known, throws a flood of light on how intensely God desires that His creatures should always take the right course and not be misled by mischievous people. (close)
وَ لَوۡ اَنَّہُمۡ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ اتَّقَوۡا لَمَثُوۡبَۃٌ مِّنۡ عِنۡدِ اللّٰہِ خَیۡرٌ ؕ لَوۡ کَانُوۡا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۰۴﴾٪
وَلَوۡ أَنَّهُمۡ ءَامَنُواْ وَٱتَّقَوۡاْ لَمَثُوبَةٞ مِّنۡ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ خَيۡرٞۚ لَّوۡ كَانُواْ يَعۡلَمُونَ
a. 3:180; 5:66-67. (close)
a. 3:180; 5:66, 67. (close)
110. Important Words:
مثوبة (reward) is, like ثواب (with which it is synonymous), derived from ثاب which means, he returned, or he returned to a good condition. مثوبة and ثواب mean, requital or reward of good or bad deeds. Generally, they are used in the sense of a reward of good deeds (Aqrab).
If the Jews had possessed true faith in God and had acted in His fear, they would not have devoted all their energies to the acquisition of worldly gains but would have sought the good of the Hereafter. They have, however, been seeking the advantage of the present life only and have neglected the Hereafter altogether, which shows that they are utterly lacking in true faith and are not leading righteous lives. (close)
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لَا تَقُوۡلُوۡا رَاعِنَا وَ قُوۡلُوا انۡظُرۡنَا وَ اسۡمَعُوۡا ؕ وَ لِلۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ عَذَابٌ اَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۰۵﴾
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تَقُولُواْ رَٰعِنَا وَقُولُواْ ٱنظُرۡنَا وَٱسۡمَعُواْۗ وَلِلۡكَٰفِرِينَ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٞ
b. 4:47. (close)
131. The word Ra‘ina belongs to the measure of Mufa‘alah which generally gives the sense of reciprocity, denoting two parties standing almost on the same level, and may mean, "have regard for us that we may have regard for you." Or being traced to the root Ra‘in which means, a foolish or conceited fellow, the word signifies: 'O fool' or 'O conceited fellow.' As this expression involved disrespect to the Holy Prophet, God forbids Muslims to use such words, and advises them to use language which is respectful and unequivocal, such as the word Unzurna meaning 'wait for us.' After mentioning the intrigues which the Jews of Arabia had carried on with outsiders to ruin the mission of the Holy Prophet, the Qur’an proceeds to illustrate in this verse such of their machinations as they resorted to in order to belittle the Holy Prophet and sow dissension and discord among Muslims. An apparently minor illustration is selected to emphasize the fact that where the spirit of a people is concerned, sometimes very small things bring about dangerous results which undermine among them the spirit of discipline and respect for authority. (close)
a. 4:47. (close)
111. Important Words:
راعنا (ra‘ina) is derived from رعی meaning, he watched or looked on. راعه means, he looks towards him with goodly feeling or he had regard for him. راع امرہ means, he watched his affair. راعنی سمعك means, lend me your ear or listen to what I say. راع النجوم means, he watched the stars and waited for their setting (Aqrab). So راعنا would mean, look to us or have a regard for us. Or the word is derived from the root رعن i.e. he acted foolishly in which case راعن would mean, a fool; a conceited person; a proud man (Aqrab).
انظرنا (unzurna) is derived from نظر meaning, he looked, or he saw, or he had regard for. So انظرنا would mean, look to us or have regard for us. Both these words, i.e. راعنا and انظرنا are used by a listener when he cannot follow the speech of a speaker. They roughly give the sense of, "I request you to repeat what you have said" or, to give a commoner idiom, "I beg your pardon"; or they are used on similar other occasions when one desires to draw the attention of a person towards oneself.
After mentioning the intrigues which the Jews carried on with outsiders to ruin the mission of the Holy Prophet, the Quran proceeds to illustrate such of their machinations as they resorted to in order to belittle the Holy Prophet and sow dissension and discord among Muslims. An apparently minor illustration is selected to emphasize the fact that where the spirit of a people is concerned, sometimes very small things bring about dangerous results, inasmuch as they help to undermine the spirit of discipline and respect for authority. It is hinted that the Jews were in the habit of devising plans to detract from the due respect with which the minds of the Muslims were inspired towards the Holy Prophet. One of these mean attempts was to address such words to the Holy Prophet as were not quite in harmony with a spirit of discipline and respect; or bore a twofold sense, one good and the other bad. Some Muslims, in innocent imitation of the Jews and in ignorance of the latter’s real motive, sometimes began to imitate their language.
One of the words used by the Jews was راعنا (ra‘ina) which, as explained under Important Words, means, have regard for us. But as the word راعنا belongs to the measure of مفاعلة which generally gives the idea of reciprocity denoting two parties standing almost on the same level, it may mean, have regard for us that we may have regard for you. As this expression involved disrespect to the Holy Prophet, God forbids Muslims to use such words, and advises them to use language which is perfectly respectful and unequivocal. He exhorts them to say انظرنا instead of راعنا because the former expression, though having a similar meaning, conveys no bad sense. God further enjoins Muslims to listen to the Holy Prophet attentively, so that they may not need such words at all.
The word راعنا which the Muslims were forbidden to use can, as pointed out above, also be traced to the root راعن which means, a fool or a conceited person. When used in addressing a person, it takes the form of راعنا which may mean, "O fool" or "O conceited person".
The Jews, utterly depraved in mentality, resorted to these mean practices with a view to belittling the position of the Holy Prophet and undermining the spirit of respect in which he was held by his followers. The Quran has mentioned this incident with a twofold purpose; firstly, to expose the Jews and to bring home to them their mean and mischievous intentions; secondly, to teach the Muslims a lesson of respect and caution. For the testimony of the Hadith to such incidents see Jarir and Manthur under 2:105. (close)
مَا یَوَدُّ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا مِنۡ اَہۡلِ الۡکِتٰبِ وَ لَا الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ اَنۡ یُّنَزَّلَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ مِّنۡ خَیۡرٍ مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یَخۡتَصُّ بِرَحۡمَتِہٖ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ ذُو الۡفَضۡلِ الۡعَظِیۡمِ ﴿۱۰۶﴾
مَّا يَوَدُّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِنۡ أَهۡلِ ٱلۡكِتَٰبِ وَلَا ٱلۡمُشۡرِكِينَ أَن يُنَزَّلَ عَلَيۡكُم مِّنۡ خَيۡرٖ مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡۚ وَٱللَّهُ يَخۡتَصُّ بِرَحۡمَتِهِۦ مَن يَشَآءُۚ وَٱللَّهُ ذُو ٱلۡفَضۡلِ ٱلۡعَظِيمِ
a. 3:75. (close)
The People of the Book and the pagan tribes of Arabia grudged the favours which were being bestowed by God on Muslims. In reply to this, God says that He, being the Lord and Master of the entire Universe, could not forever bind Himself to one people but chose for His bounty whomsoever He pleased from among His creation. But now when He has chosen the Muslims, He is not confining His favours to one people only. The mission of the Holy Prophet being for all mankind, the call to come and receive God’s favours is universal and hence no people need now show envy or grudge. With the advent of Islam the era of الفضل العظیم i.e. "exceeding (viz. universal) bounty" had dawned. (close)
مَا نَنۡسَخۡ مِنۡ اٰیَۃٍ اَوۡ نُنۡسِہَا نَاۡتِ بِخَیۡرٍ مِّنۡہَاۤ اَوۡ مِثۡلِہَا ؕ اَلَمۡ تَعۡلَمۡ اَنَّ اللّٰہَ عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ قَدِیۡرٌ ﴿۱۰۷﴾
۞مَا نَنسَخۡ مِنۡ ءَايَةٍ أَوۡ نُنسِهَا نَأۡتِ بِخَيۡرٖ مِّنۡهَآ أَوۡ مِثۡلِهَآۗ أَلَمۡ تَعۡلَمۡ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيۡءٖ قَدِيرٌ
b. 16:102. (close)
131A. Ayah means, message, sign, command or a verse of the Qur’an (Lane). (close)
132. It is mistakenly inferred from this verse that some verses of the Qur’an have been abrogated. The conclusion is patently erroneous and unwarranted. There is nothing in this verse to indicate that the word Ayah refers to Quranic verses. Both in the preceding and the following verses, a reference is made to the People of the Book and their jealousies against the new Revelation which shows that the Ayah spoken of in this verse as being abrogated, refers to the previous Revelations. It is pointed out that the previous Scriptures contained two kinds of commandments: (a) Those which, owing to changed conditions and to the universality of the new Revelation, required abrogation. (b) Those containing eternal truths which needed resuscitation so that people might be reminded of the forgotten truth. It was, therefore, necessary to abrogate certain portions of those Scriptures and bring in their place new ones, and also to restore the lost ones. So, God abrogated some portions of the previous Revelations, substituting them with new and better ones, and at the same time re-introduced the missing portions by similar ones. This is the meaning which is consistent with the context and the general spirit of the Quranic teaching. The Qur’an has abrogated all previous Scriptures; for, in view of the changed conditions of mankind, it has brought a new Law which is not only better than all the old Laws, but is also meant for all men for all times. An inferior teaching with a limited mission must give place to a superior teaching with a universal mission. In the verse the word Nansakh (We abrogate) relates to the word Bi-Khairin (one better) and the word Nunsiha (We cause to be forgotten) relates to the word Bi-Mithliha (the like thereof), meaning that when God abrogates a certain thing He brings a better one in its place and when He causes a thing to be forgotten, He resuscitates it. It is admitted by Jewish scholars themselves that after the Israelites were carried away in captivity to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, the whole of the Pentateuch was lost (Enc. Bib.). (close)
a. 16:102. (close)
113. Important Words:
ننسخ (We abrogate) is derived from نسخ which has two meanings: (1) he abrogated or annulled, irrespective of the fact whether he brought another in its place or not; (2) he prepared a true copy of a book (Aqrab). It is from the latter sense that the word نسخة or "copy" is derived. From the former sense we derive the words ناسخ i.e. the thing which comes to abrogate another, and منسوخ i.e. the thing which is abrogated.
ننسھا (We cause to be forgotten) is derived from نسی meaning, he forgot, or he failed to preserve in his mind. انسی is the causative form of نسی meaning, he made a person forget a thing (Aqrab).
مثل (like) has three distinct uses: (1) either it is used to denote the like of a thing; (2) or it is used to denote a thing itself; (3) or sometimes it is redundant, giving no special meaning (Aqrab & Misbah).
Some commentators have attempted to infer from this verse that some of the verses of the Quran have been abrogated by others. But this conclusion is grievously erroneous and unwarranted. There is nothing in this verse to indicate that the word آیة (Sign) occurring here refers to the Quranic verses. Both in the preceding and the following verses, a reference is made to the People of the Book and their jealousies for the new revelation, which clearly shows that the word آیة spoken of in this verse as being abrogated, refers to the previous revelation. It is pointed out in this verse that the previous Scriptures contained two kinds of commandments. Firstly, those which, owing to the changed conditions of the world and the universality of the new revelation, required abrogation; secondly, those containing eternal truths which did not require abrogation but simply resuscitation so that people might be reminded of the forgotten truth. It was, therefore, necessary (1) to abrogate certain portions and bring in their place new ones, and (2) to restore the lost ones. So, God abrogated some portions of the old Books, replacing them with new and better ones, and at the same time He re-introduced the missing portions by similar ones. This is the only meaning which is consistent with the context and the general spirit of Quranic teaching. In the verse the word ننسخ (We abrogate) relates to the words بخیر (one better) and the words ننسھا (cause to be forgotten) relate to the words بمثلھا (the like thereof) meaning that when God abrogates a certain thing He brings a better thing in its place and when He causes a thing to be forgotten, i.e. when people forget a thing, He brings it over again, i.e. He resuscitates it.
The Jews themselves admit that after the Israelites were carried as captives to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, the whole of the Pentateuch was lost (Enc. Bib, 653-654).
The meaning put on the verse by some Translators, viz., that certain verses of the Quran stand abrogated is not only opposed to the words of the Quran and the context of the verse, but is also against reason; nor can any authentic saying of the Holy Prophet be quoted in its favour. On the contrary, the Holy Prophet is reported to have said that the whole of the Quran must be strictly followed and he himself acted upon all its teachings throughout his life. Besides this, the Quran itself testifies to its own purity and integrity. The well-known verse: Verily, We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation and most surely We will be its Guardian (15:10) leads to no other conclusion. If the abrogation of any part of the Quran be conceded, the promise about its protection becomes null and void, for in that case it would be impossible to distinguish the abrogated portions from the rest of the Book. Again, there is absolutely no self-contradiction in the Quran, and therefore there is no need of resorting to the theory of abrogation. So-called contradictions only betray lack ofdeep study on the part of those who proclaim them. When one fails to understand two verses in their true relations, one is inclined to see a contradiction between them and then takes recourse to the convenient theory that one of the two verses must have been abrogated by the other. As soon as they appear to be reconcilable, the abrogation theory becomes gratuitous. This is why those who have upheld the abrogation theory have gradually been compelled to reduce the number of abrogated verses; for whereas the abrogated verses were formerly thought to be as many as 500, they have, by later scholars, been gradually reduced to only five. But even this is incorrect; for there is absolutely no verse in the Quran which is abrogated and we challenge any critic to come forward and prove that any verse of the Holy Book is abrogated. It is a pity that such beautiful significance of the verse under comment should have, as has been briefly portrayed above, become marred through ignorance and thoughtlessness. The verse has a reference to yet another significance as well.The People of the Book have been told that the Quran has come to abrogate all previous Scriptures; for, in view of the changed conditions of mankind, it has brought a new شریعة (Law) which is not only better than all the old codes of Law, but is also meant for all men and all times. An inferior thing with a limited mission must give place to a superior thing with a universal mission. Having explained this point, the Quran proceeds to say that although its teachings are meant for all time, yet a period is destined to come in the life of Islam when, though the letter of the Quran would still be intact, its spirit would be forgotten and lost by Muslims. When such a time comes, God will arrange to resuscitate the Quranic teachings, i.e. bring back "the like thereof" by raising a special Reformer from among Muslims. This prophecy is referred to more pointedly in 62:4 where God promises to raise a Reformer in the likeness of the Holy Prophet in the Latter Days. This Reformer, it is pointed out, would bring back the true faith to the world, even if it had soared away as high as the Pleiades (Bukhari, ch. on Tafsir). The prophecy has been fulfilled in the person of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement. (close)
اَلَمۡ تَعۡلَمۡ اَنَّ اللّٰہَ لَہٗ مُلۡکُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ وَ مَا لَکُمۡ مِّنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ مِنۡ وَّلِیٍّ وَّ لَا نَصِیۡرٍ ﴿۱۰۸﴾
أَلَمۡ تَعۡلَمۡ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَهُۥ مُلۡكُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِۗ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ مِن وَلِيّٖ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ
a. 3:190; 5:41; 7:159; 9:116; 43:86; 57:6. (close)
a. 3:190; 5:41; 7:159; 9:116; 43:86; 57:6. (close)
114. Important Words:
ولی (protector). They say ولی الرجل i.e. he helped him; or he made friends with him. ولی البلد means, he got control or authority over the town. So ولی means: (1) friend; (2) helper; (3) protector; (4) ally, etc. (Aqrab).
In this verse an argument has been brought forth in support of the fact that Quranic revelation abrogates the previous revelations. God says that to Him belongs the entire universe, the heavens and the earth, and it was in the fitness of things that finally a revelation meant for the whole of mankind should have made its appearance.
In the verse, the Jews are also told that it will be to their own interest to embrace Islam; for otherwise they will have neither friend nor helper against Allah.
There is a subtle implication in the verse, viz. that the Muslims, though despised and persecuted today, will not only receive spiritual favours from God, but will also become masters of large earthly kingdoms as well; for is not Allah the Controller of the heavens and the earth? (close)
اَمۡ تُرِیۡدُوۡنَ اَنۡ تَسۡـَٔلُوۡا رَسُوۡلَکُمۡ کَمَا سُئِلَ مُوۡسٰی مِنۡ قَبۡلُ ؕ وَ مَنۡ یَّتَبَدَّلِ الۡکُفۡرَ بِالۡاِیۡمَانِ فَقَدۡ ضَلَّ سَوَآءَ السَّبِیۡلِ ﴿۱۰۹﴾
أَمۡ تُرِيدُونَ أَن تَسۡـَٔلُواْ رَسُولَكُمۡ كَمَا سُئِلَ مُوسَىٰ مِن قَبۡلُۗ وَمَن يَتَبَدَّلِ ٱلۡكُفۡرَ بِٱلۡإِيمَٰنِ فَقَدۡ ضَلَّ سَوَآءَ ٱلسَّبِيلِ
b. 4:154. (close)
133. This verse mentions another artifice which the Jews employed to overthrow the mission of the Holy Prophet. They asked him absurd and silly questions as had no bearing on religion. This they did to inoculate Muslims with the spirit of stupid questioning, so that the dignity of faith should suffer and they may fall victim to doubts. (close)
115. Important Words:
سواء (right) is derived from سوی. They say سوی الرجل i.e. his affairs became straight and well. سواء means: (1) the central portion of a thing; (2) equal. سواء السبیل means, the straight or right portion of a way; or a straight or right way (Lisan & Aqrab).
This verse mentions another artifice which the Jews employed to overthrow the mission of the Holy Prophet. They asked him absurd and silly questions as had no bearing on religion. This they did to inoculate Muslims with the same spirit of stupid questioning, so that their hearts might gradually become estranged from the dignity of faith and give way to doubt. In warning Muslims against such a course, the Quran points out that the Jews had ruined themselves by putting similar questions to Moses, and that the Muslims should, therefore, beware of following their evil example. In fact, unnecessary and irrelevant questions in religious matters eventually lead one to loss of faith, for they tend to degrade religion to a plaything or a piece of idle philosophy.
As to the nature of questions put to Moses by the Israelites, the Quran refers to one in 4:154. Says God: The People of the Book ask thee to cause a Book to descend on them from heaven. They asked Moses a greater thing than this; they said, 'Show us Allah openly.' then a destructive punishment overtook them because of their transgression. Then they took the calf for worship after clear Signs had come to them, but We pardoned even that. And We gave Moses manifest authority. This verse gives us an indication as to the nature of the questions that were put to Moses, and Muslims are forbidden to put such questions to their Prophet. (close)
وَدَّ کَثِیۡرٌ مِّنۡ اَہۡلِ الۡکِتٰبِ لَوۡ یَرُدُّوۡنَکُمۡ مِّنۡۢ بَعۡدِ اِیۡمَانِکُمۡ کُفَّارًا ۚۖ حَسَدًا مِّنۡ عِنۡدِ اَنۡفُسِہِمۡ مِّنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا تَبَیَّنَ لَہُمُ الۡحَقُّ ۚ فَاعۡفُوۡا وَ اصۡفَحُوۡا حَتّٰی یَاۡتِیَ اللّٰہُ بِاَمۡرِہٖ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ قَدِیۡرٌ ﴿۱۱۰﴾
وَدَّ كَثِيرٞ مِّنۡ أَهۡلِ ٱلۡكِتَٰبِ لَوۡ يَرُدُّونَكُم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ إِيمَٰنِكُمۡ كُفَّارًا حَسَدٗا مِّنۡ عِندِ أَنفُسِهِم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُمُ ٱلۡحَقُّۖ فَٱعۡفُواْ وَٱصۡفَحُواْ حَتَّىٰ يَأۡتِيَ ٱللَّهُ بِأَمۡرِهِۦٓۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيۡءٖ قَدِيرٞ
a. 3:101, 150; 4:90. (close)
b. 5:14. (close)
c. 5:53; 16:34. (close)
b. a5:14. (close)
c. b5:53; 16:34. (close)
116. Important Words:
فاعفوا (forgive) is derived from عفا. They say عفا عنه or عفا له or عفا ذنبه or عفا عن ذنبه meaning, he forgave and pardoned him and did not resort to punishment; he connived at his fault or offence. عفا الله عنه means, God obliterated the traces of his sin. عفا عن الشیء means, he withheld or restrained himself from it (Aqrab).
اصفحوا (turn away) is derived from صفح. They say صفح عنه meaning, he turned his face from it, he avoided it and left it alone; he pardoned him his sin. الصفح means, the side of a thing; or the side of a face, i.e. the cheek, etc. (Aqrab).
امر (decree). The verb امر means, he commanded or he enjoined or he asked. So امر means, a command; an order; a decree; a judgement; an affair; a thing; a condition or state; an event. امرالله means, the promised or the decreed punishment of God (Aqrab & Lane).
By manifold devices, some of which have been referred to above, the Jews wished to lead the Muslims astray, and their designs had their basis in jealousy. Muslims are exhorted not to quarrel with them but to wait patiently in a spirit of forbearance, till God Himself should finally decide the matter.
As explained under Important Words above, there is a subtle distinction between the meanings of عفو (forgive) and صفح(turn away). Whereas the former means, abstaining from punishment, the latter signifies, turning one’s face away or leaving a thing alone. By using the words together, God exhorts Muslims not only to forgive the Jews and refrain from punishing them for their overt hostile acts and covert machinations, but to leave them alone and remain aloof from them till God Himself opened out a way for them, which He eventually did, as soon afterwards the Jews themselves declared war against the Muslims.
It is wrong to think that the words, till Allah brings His decree, refer to aggressive war. It is God’s general decree or judgement that is meant here, as may be inferred from the words that follow, viz. surely, Allah has the power to do all that He wills. Some of the Jews embraced Islam and the rest perished as a result of divine punishment.
The phrase, out of envy from themselves, means that the Holy Prophet had done nothing to excite their jealousy, but that it was their own evil nature that had given rise to it. The disease of حسد (jealousy) originated in their own hearts and had no infection from outside. (close)
وَ اَقِیۡمُوا الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ اٰتُوا الزَّکٰوۃَ ؕ وَ مَا تُقَدِّمُوۡا لِاَنۡفُسِکُمۡ مِّنۡ خَیۡرٍ تَجِدُوۡہُ عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ بَصِیۡرٌ ﴿۱۱۱﴾
وَأَقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُواْ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَۚ وَمَا تُقَدِّمُواْ لِأَنفُسِكُم مِّنۡ خَيۡرٖ تَجِدُوهُ عِندَ ٱللَّهِۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ بَصِيرٞ
d. See 2:4. (close)
e. 73:21. (close)
a. See 2:4. (close)
b. 73:21. (close)
When one is subjected to continued persecution, one is apt to lose patience. But Muslims were enjoined to meekly endure troubles and torments, and in order to be able to do so, they were ordered to resort to الصلوة (prayers to God) on the one hand, and to الزکوة (helping mankind) on the other. By so doing, they would acquire from God the power to endure.
The words, whatever good you send on before you for yourselves, you shall find it with Allah, contain a deep spiritual truth. Whatever good man does is kept in store for him by Allah and nothing is lost. Every good work is like a seed which may lie hidden from the public view but is all the time a large tree in the making. So the Muslims should not think that their Prayers and their Zakah will be lost. They are sure to bring forth good fruit sooner or later. (close)